A unique event took place in Alberta, Canada earlier this summer, when one particular family of Hays gathered together for the first time in more than 100 years.
The idea came from Laraine Strafford, Clan Hay’s convenor for Canada. Laraine is the granddaughter of William Hay (1887-1935) who emigrated to Canada from Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1905. She and her husband Ben hosted a four-day “open house” for their extended family in July, attended by around 60 people from North America and Scotland.
Laraine’s grandfather William was one of a family of nine who survived infancy, the eldest surviving son of William Hay (1846-1926) and his wife Helen Keith (1855-1940), who farmed at Belnagoak in the Aberdeenshire parish of Methlick. Of the nine siblings, four brothers – William, John, Arthur and Alexander – left to seek their fortune in Canada between 1905 and 1927. Meanwhile, three sisters – Jane, Helen, and Barbara – relocated to Australia between 1911 and 1914. That left only two – Isabella and George – to continue the line at home in Scotland. Between them, the siblings provided William Hay senior with no fewer than 44 grandchildren. At his death in 1926, he had over 70 living descendants, who had scattered to all four corners of the earth.
Fortunately, Laraine and Ben have the space to accommodate the growing fleet of cars and RVs that arrived over the first two days, bringing an ever growing band of cousins and second cousins, many of them meeting for the first time. It was a gloriously happy weekend of good food, drink and conversation. The Scottish entertainment was provided by well-known piper Neil Dickie – originally from Glasgow, but long settled in Canada and married to a member of the Hay family – pictured here entertaining some of the family in Laraine and Ben’s beautiful garden. The family are eternally grateful to them for their hospitality.